I want to take the time to thank the anti-Trump demonstrators for their civility as they greeted the elector for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, outgoing Maine GOP Chair Rick Bennett, and his supporters, of which I was one. With the organizers’ Facebook pages encouraging protesters to stop Maine’s only Trump elector “by any means necessary,” it was far from the only possible outcome, particularly in light of recent, more aggressive protests in Portland.
Maine has once again demonstrated itself to be above the fray which much of the rest of the nation seems to plunge itself into. It set the example that citizens can disagree very strongly, and yet remain respectful, remembering that at the end of the day they are still neighbors and fellow citizens of Maine and our country. The people did not buy the violent rhetoric of the Left, but this violent rhetoric does not cease to be a problem. The level of division in the nation today is not unprecedented, but it is a greater division than we have had since the 1970’s.
What was unprecedented, however, was the level of engagement in the political process. This was the first election cycle followed by so many people through every stage of the process, and never before has the electorate been so widely educated about our election process. America, and the world, followed this election cycle as they would a Netflix series.
And indeed we elected a reality TV star, a huge personality whose novelty made the cautious, pandering, image-consulted, focus group approved politicians seem simultaneously shallow, hollow, and dishonest. Not only did Donald Trump say whatever was on his mind, he doubled down on whatever fell from his jowls or fingertip at any given time. And he did it so well, so beautifully, that the media was compelled to obsessively cover whatever 140 character emission he happened to toss out at 2 a.m. that morning, giving him non-stop media coverage without his spending a dime.
While the media was misreading already skewed polls about how wonderful Hillary’s campaign was doing, Trump was packing crowds that overflowed the doors of stadiums around the block.
Just when the Left thought they had won the cultural war, Trump, who embraced and branded his own absurdity, made it utterly impossible to take the left seriously whatsoever. Trump understood how to use social media just as FDR understood how to utilize radio. It was no coincidence that in the age when the opinionated masses found their voice and stride, the man who understood how to use the media platforms driving it would find himself at the top.
What is significant, however, is that the man figured out the significance and power of the platform, and how to harness it. He kept everyone glued to all forms of media just to see what would happen next. He confronted the right-wing establishment, baffled the establishment left, manipulated the media, and struck terror into the heart of post-modernist liberalism. He beat the left at their own game using their Alinskyan tactics in new and novel ways.
Trump’s showmanship and his off-the-cuff air of confidence, no matter how ridiculous, dominates all attention. He may have the mannerisms of a drunken buffoon who accidentally found himself the most powerful man in the world, but had he been a typical candidate, no one would have really cared. He developed and played a caricature of himself while driving the entire narrative surrounding him. He turned the election into a series of cliffhangers and plot twists. That is why the Left engaged so thoroughly in this election and why they learned enough about the system to suggest that electors “vote their conscious.”
And that they did. In the end, more switched their vote from Hillary than switched their vote from Trump, because Hillary never drove the narrative further than any of the GOP primary contestants did. It was Trump’s Wagnerian performance–and not dedication to their candidate–that ensured the Left was educated enough about their political system to attempt to sway our electors peacefully.
The left’s sudden love for Hamilton, traditionally a figure reviled by the left, was able to culminate in the “Hamilton Electors,” who the left hoped they could get to defect in the name of fighting Trump’s populism, with the justification that Hillary won by popular vote. Had they not pursued this last ditch effort, not only would the narrative course of the election have been less interesting, but the nation would not be so familiar with the history and process of the election system.
So, again, to the anti-Trump demonstrators, thank you for participating in this year’s election.